Honoring the fallen and remembering today’s military that remain in harm’s way was the basis of the Memorial Day Ceremony hosted by the American Legion Brown-Wright Post 12 in Rockmart.
A crowd gathered to honor the nation’s dead despite the rising temperature and threatening clouds.
The program opened with the placing of a wreath at the “killed in action” monument by Unit 12 President Shelia Brinkley and advancement of colors by Post 12 Legion Riders.
During the invocation, Rev. Maryellen Hittle reminded that those who have fallen did so to protect peace, freedom and America by defending liberties at home and abroad.
“We honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice,” she said. “Sons and daughters have died at home and in far off lands as they served the military and their families have experienced grief due to the loss of loved ones.”
Post Commander James Tramell asked everyone to remember that the day is dedicated to the memory of veterans. He also expressed prayers for military men and women still serving both at home and abroad.
Keynote speaker Kenneth Moore focused most of his address on Edward Lewis “Jack” Dean, born in Rockmart on Dec. 23, 1923, and who died at sea off Sava Island while serving aboard U.S.S. Vincennes on Aug. 10, 1943.
Dean joined the Navy on July 24, 1940 and was aboard the Vincennes when it provided neutrality patrols in the Atlantic. During a training exercise, he was credited with saving the life of a seaman who had sustained severe injuries.
After the attack on Pearl Harbor, his ship returned to Norfolk, VA on Jan. 5, 1942 to be outfitted for war. By August 14, 1942, Dean was in Pacific waters when the Vincennes was providing escort U.S.S. Hornet. A gunner, he was one of the men that participated in the battle of Midway on June 14, 1942.
After his ship returned to Pearl Harbor for battle damage repairs, he served in support of the Marines landing on Guadalcanal. On Aug. 9, 1942, the Vincennes was discovered by the enemy and received an estimated 85 shell and 3 torpedo hits. At 2:50 a.m., the ship went down bough first taking 337 sailors with her. Jack did not make it off the ship and never returned home.
After being listed as missing in action, his parents received a letter – dated Aug. 28, 1943 -- that he was declared deceased.
“This is the story of a young man from Rockmart who answered the call to serve and it cost him his life,” said. Moore. “Jack is one of the 84 names listed here but there are thousands of others that deserve our honor and respect for the sacrifice they made.”
Marcus Sherman played taps as the Memorial Day program ended.